Otumoetai Free Kindergarten - 01/03/2012

1.The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Otumoetai Free Kindergarten operates under the umbrella of the Tauranga Free Kindergarten Association (the association), which provides professional development and administrative support for teachers. The kindergarten offers five morning sessions per week for older preschool children and two afternoon sessions for younger children. Thirteen children identify as Māori. All teachers, except the head teacher, have been appointed to their positions since the 2008 ERO review.

The high-quality learning environment is attractive, well resourced and educationally stimulating. Indoor and outdoor areas are inviting and organised to provide ready access to a wide range of considered age-appropriate equipment and activities. The outdoor area is designed to interest children in physical challenges and environmental education. Health and safety systems are continually implemented. Children are encouraged to take supervised, manageable risks in order to achieve their goals.

Respectful, affirming and inclusive interactions strongly influence the kindergarten’s warm, family-like atmosphere. Teachers work alongside children, participating in their play and extending their learning. Humour and fun are frequently evident. Children engage in spontaneous free play, according to their interests and preferences.

Teachers’ collaborative planning reflects their enthusiasm for children’s learning and development. The programme is systematically based on children’s emerging interests. Literacy, numeracy, science, music, te reo Māori, and expressive activities are well integrated across the programme. Records of children’s learning are attractively presented. Parent support is actively promoted by staff and the parent committee.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Otumoetai Free Kindergarten was invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the centre to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the management and staff. This discussion focused on existing information held by the centre (including self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to positive outcomes for children atOtumoetai Free Kindergarten.

All ERO education reviews in early childhood focus on the quality of education. For ERO this includes the quality of:

  • the programme provided for children;
  • the learning environment; and
  • the interactions between children and adults.

The centre managers suggested that within these areas the review could consider:

  • opportunities for physical challenge.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Education

Background

Otumoetai Free Kindergarten offers five morning sessions per week for older preschool children and three afternoon sessions for younger children. Thirteen children identify as Māori. An Enviro Schools approach underpins strategic and programme planning.

All teachers, except the head teacher, have been appointed to their positions since the last ERO review. Teachers have recently constructed a rock-climbing wall to provide children with opportunities for physical challenge and risk-taking. They continue to use the adjacent park for additional physical activities. Staff have, therefore, requested a particular focus on opportunities for physical challenge as part of this review.

Areas of strength

Leadership and teamwork: The head teacher promotes collaborative leadership and continuing professional dialogue in a climate of transparency and trust. Teachers work well together and engage in frequent reflection about their teaching practice. Self review has focused on developing agreed understandings about pedagogy, assessment, literacy and numeracy practices. Teachers are reflective and collegial practitioners who are committed to providing the best possible educational experiences for children and their families.

Programme: The programme effectively reflects the kindergarten’s philosophy. Treaty of Waitangi principles are evident in many aspects of the programme and protocols. Collaborative relationships, meaningful learning contexts, physical activity and care for the environment are actively promoted. Programme planning is based on children’s identified and emerging interests, which often lead to sustained group projects.

Teachers plan carefully considered activities that include the use of natural resources and promote interest and challenge. They provide opportunities for risk, challenge, socio-dramatic play and creative expression. There is a strong emphasis on visual art. Children are encouraged to manipulate and use equipment for their own purposes. Literacy, numeracy, music, social, and science skills are fostered and extended. Children engage in spontaneous free play according to their interests and preferences, and participate readily in well-established routines.

Children’s individual portfolios are attractively presented. They demonstrate that teachers notice, recognise and respond to children’s choices, ideas and wondering. Well-illustrated assessment entries capture engagement in the programme and associated learning. As a result of extensive self review, teachers have developed a consistent team approach to assessment that informs children’s continuing learning.

Learning environment: The high-quality learning environment is attractive, well resourced and educationally stimulating. Bicultural perspectives are effectively promoted and there is an easy flow between integrated learning areas. Children have ready access to a wide range of suitable equipment and activities.

The outdoor area is easily accessed and designed to interest children in physical challenges and environmental education. An edible garden is accompanied by facilities for planting, worm farming and composting. A flower bed is designed to attract butterflies. Children gain satisfaction from marketing their produce and supplying food for the kindergarten’s various small animals.

Opportunities for physical challenge: Opportunities for physical challenge are well managed to encourage children’s supervised risk-taking. The rock wall and tree swing effectively extend physical coordination, balance and confidence. Other physical challenges include running, ball games and other challenges in the adjacent park. Moveable equipment is arranged to offer varying challenges for older preschoolers. Portfolio entries show that children take great delight in conquering challenges – especially the rock wall. Recent Rugby World Cup discussions have provided continuing motivation for ball sports.

Interactions: Respectful, affirming and inclusive interactions strongly influence the kindergarten’s warm, family-like atmosphere. Teachers work alongside children, introducing specialised language about topics of interest, integrating te reo Māori and extending learning. Team work and positive guidance are strongly evident and well modelled by staff. Children work and play cheerfully and purposefully for sustained periods of time.

Children are encouraged to participate in leadership roles such as welcoming visitors, contributing to decision-making and expressing opinions. They take responsibility for assisting each other, especially when children are new to the kindergarten. Self management and independence are actively encouraged.

Community support is actively promoted by the staff and the parent committee. Positive relationships among teachers, parents, children and families are evident.

Agreed priorities

ERO and kindergarten staff agree that priorities for development and review are to continue:

  • streamlining self-review systems and processes; and

  • encouraging the use of parents’ and children’s voices in assessment.

Area for further development

The association recently developed a framework to oversee the performance management of staff. The first cycle of this framework is yet to be fully implemented. Centre leaders now need to review and enhance the way in which teacher professional growth and development are encouraged and supported.

3. National Evaluation Topic

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole through its national reports. This information will be used as the basis for long term and systemic educational improvement.

Inclusion of children with moderate to severe special needs

As part of this review ERO evaluated the extent to which:

  • transitions ensure the continuing well-being, learning, and development of children with moderate to severe special needs
  • children with moderate to severe special needs supported to be confident and capable learners
  • the service is inclusive of children with moderate to severe special needs.

Background

At present the service caters for two children with special needs. An education support worker (ESW) supports one of these children. Relevant support agencies, including Ministry of Education personnel, have provided assistance for both children.

Areas of strength

Well-considered processes tailored to the specific needs of each child and family facilitate smooth transition into the kindergarten. These processes include:

  • providing a welcoming environment for children and families;
  • involving parents and families in transition processes;
  • consulting relevant external agencies;
  • introducing a child to his ESW in his own home prior to transition; and
  • involving other children in welcoming and engaging with special needs children.

Both children are very well supported to become confident and competent learners. Teachers and the ESW effectively notice, recognise and respond to their emerging learning needs and interests. It is clear that both children are making good progress with their learning and development. They are included in all kindergarten activities and their successes are celebrated.

Very inclusive interactions and relationships are promoted and modelled by teachers. The programme is continually adapted to meet their needs. Children with special needs play and interact with their peers according to their interests and preferences. Parents appreciate the inclusiveness of the programme and the kindergarten’s family-like atmosphere.

4. Management Assurance on Legal Requirements

Before the review, the staff of Otumoetai Free Kindergarten completed an ERO CentreAssurance Statement andSelf-Audit Checklist. In these documents they attested that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal obligations related to:

  • administration;
  • health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management; and
  • financial and property management.

During the review, ERO looked at the service’s documentation, including policies, procedures and records of recent use of procedures. ERO also checked elements of the following areas that have a potentially high impact on outcomes for children:

  • emotional safety (including behaviour management, prevention of bullying and abuse);
  • physical safety (including behaviour management, sleeping and supervision practices; accidents and medication; hygiene and routines; travel and excursion policies and procedures);
  • staff qualifications and organisation; and
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

5. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

About the Centre

Type

Kindergarten

Licensed under

Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

Number licensed for

Up to 45 children, aged 2 years and over

Roll number

70

Gender composition

Girls 36 Boys 34

Ethnic composition

NZ European Pākehā 54 NZ Māori 13 Indian 2 Chinese 1

Review team on site

November 2011

Date of this report

1 March 2012

Previous three ERO reports

Education Review December 2008

Education Review March 2006

Education Review December 2002

1 March 2012

To the Parents and Community of Otumoetai Free Kindergarten

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report on Otumoetai Free Kindergarten.

Otumoetai Free Kindergarten operates under the umbrella of the Tauranga Free Kindergarten Association (the association), which provides professional development and administrative support for teachers. The kindergarten offers five morning sessions per week for older preschool children and two afternoon sessions for younger children. Thirteen children identify as Māori. All teachers, except the head teacher, have been appointed to their positions since the 2008 ERO review.

The high-quality learning environment is attractive, well resourced and educationally stimulating. Indoor and outdoor areas are inviting and organised to provide ready access to a wide range of considered age-appropriate equipment and activities. The outdoor area is designed to interest children in physical challenges and environmental education. Health and safety systems are continually implemented. Children are encouraged to take supervised, manageable risks in order to achieve their goals.

Respectful, affirming and inclusive interactions strongly influence the kindergarten’s warm, family-like atmosphere. Teachers work alongside children, participating in their play and extending their learning. Humour and fun are frequently evident. Children engage in spontaneous free play, according to their interests and preferences.

Teachers’ collaborative planning reflects their enthusiasm for children’s learning and development. The programme is systematically based on children’s emerging interests. Literacy, numeracy, science, music, te reo Māori, and expressive activities are well integrated across the programme. Records of children’s learning are attractively presented. Parent support is actively promoted by staff and the parent committee.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interest of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again in three years.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow up action they plan to take. You should talk to the management or contact person if you have any questions about this evaluation, the full ERO report or their future intentions.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the centre or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

Makere Smith

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region (Acting)

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVIEWS

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve quality of education for children in early childhood centres; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.
  • Reviews are intended to focus on outcomes for children and build on each centre’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on four review strands.

Quality of Education – including the quality of the programme provided for children, the quality of the learning environment and the quality of the interactions between staff and children and how these impact on outcomes for children.

Additional Review Priorities – other aspects of the operation of a centre, may be included in the review. ERO will not include this strand in all reviews.

National Evaluation Topics – This strand contributes to the development of education policies and their effective implementation. The information from this strand is aggregated by ERO for its national evaluation reports. Topics for investigation are changed regularly to provide up-to-date information.

Compliance with Legal Requirements – assurance that this centre has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of centre performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to this centre.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a centre is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this centre.